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Grocery Accord Could Hurt the Middle Class

March 02, 2004

Although it is too early to tell, I am afraid the contract negotiated between the United Food and Commercial Workers union and the supermarket chains is bad news to America's labor movement (March 1).

Grocery stores at one time represented a rare thing in America's service industry: a living wage and good benefits. Clerks and their families could live at middle-class standards on a single income. Times have changed. With the two-tier wage system, new clerks may never be able to support a family on their salaries.

Individual healthcare costs have skyrocketed. This impacts more than just grocery workers. Supermarkets (because of competition from low-wage leader Wal-Mart) have lowered the bar for all workers. Employees throughout the country face increasing competition from imported goods, outsourced service jobs and immigrant labor; this is a deadly combination for workers.

Unless Americans stop patronizing corporations that exploit workers, stop buying foreign-made goods and start being more patriotic with their pocketbooks, the standard of living for the majority of Americans will continue to decline until the middle class no longer exists.

William W. Webb Jr.

Yucaipa

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By voting for a two-tier contract, UFCW members have stabbed their new members in the back. Union solidarity, indeed.

Rick Ledger

San Gabriel

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